No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Children's Day

October 31, 2018


Children’s Day

The very final event of the Fantasy Fest schedule is always held on the final Sunday of the ten day festival and is the annual event that is designed for children to get to experience a little piece of Fantasy Fest magic. Bleary eyed parents escorting thousands of the island’s children as they enjoy a day of rides, games, food and fun at Bayview Park.


Sponsored each year by Historic Tours of America, First State Bank and others, the day features costume contests, a full entertainment schedule featuring all manner of school bands, local musicians and more as well as any number of booths by a myriad of local non-profits and just about every school group from all of Key West’s schools all trying to sell food, host games or simply ask for cash donations as a way to raise funds for their causes.


It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day for the event and I must say this year had about the most large rides and bounce houses, slides, and more than I have ever seen at a Children’s Day. It was by any measure a huge success and literally thousands of screaming kids could attest to that fact.

I have gone for the past few years as my final photo assignment of the Fantasy Fest week and of course to grab a nice bite to eat, usually of Conch Salad or some other tasty treat. Photographing kids is a tricky proposition, first they are hard to photograph and second, I am always conscious of asking parental permission so not to be perceived as some weirdo taking pix of kids. 


While it is not one of my favorite events, usually I am just about exhausted by the time the event rolls around, but it is great to see such a popular event for families and it seems that every kid and parent in Key West is on hand for the fun. Hopefully the charities involved had a successful day and if the size of the throng on hand is any indication than they most likely did.


With Fantasy Fest over, the Key West schedule returns to its abnormally regular scheduled self. There was one other cool event during the week after the festival concluded and that was a campaign visit from the Democratic nominee for the State of Florida’s Governor, Andrew Gillum. Gillum is running against Republican Ron DeSantis for the governorship and made a rare Key West visit for such an important race.


It is rare for a candidate for Governor to come to Key West, so it was sort of cool to be out at Salute restaurant early on a Wednesday morning for the campaign appearance and stump speech. A pretty large and enthusiastic crowd of supporters was on hand to see and hear Gillum and they hung on every word. He certainly seemed like a pretty good choice as he expounded on positive ideas for actual positive changes.


The crowd responded well and it was a pretty cool thing to see and experience. I know in the state of Florida, Democratic candidates are up against it most of the time as Republicans seem to have a lock on state politics, but even so, Gillum seemed like he potentially has a bright future weather he wins this particular election or not. He is currently the mayor of Tallahassee and is trying to appeal as sort of an anti-Trump sort of candidate while his opponent seems to be embracing just about everything that President Trump stands for, making for an easy distinction for voters to choose from

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fantasy Fest 2018

October 28, 2018



Matt and Debbie

Scott and Wendy

Fantasy Fest 2018

So in my concluding blog posting I wanted to include in full a letter to the editor that I wrote to the “Key West Citizen”, our local paper. Of course, like the original letter I wrote previously, the paper opted not to print the letter. Unlike the last letter though, I doubt that this letter will actually become the focus of a front page article in the paper. Sadly unlike the turnaround that Fantasy Fest has experienced in recent years, the local paper has continued on its precipitous decline, but that is a separate subject all together.


“About four years ago, I wrote a letter to “The Key West Citizen” which I complained vehemently about the direction of our largest local Festival, Fantasy Fest. At that time I was very concerned about the seemingly ever growing focus on nudity, sexuality and general raunchiness which I felt diminished the event and the perception of our island community. 

Trevor and Rob


Jim and Joanna

This year marks my 28th consecutive year either attending or covering Fantasy Fest as a photographer and as much as I complained previously, I want to compliment and congratulate the organizers, sponsors and participants of this year’s festival. It was a rousing success and the move away from the raunchy towards a much more artistic and creative event is evident everywhere.


Attending some 27 official Fantasy Fest events as a photographer this year, placed me in a unique position to see close up what was happening and I just want to offer my sincerest congratulations to everyone associated with Fantasy Fest this year. The incredible teams at We've Got the Keys and Wonderdog Studios, led by the incomparable Nadene Grossman Orr and Marky Pierson produced one of the greatest weeks of revelry ever in the 28 years I have been attending or covering Fantasy Fest.


 Everyone involved from the sponsors, to the venues to the incredible staff and volunteers, to the wonderful island residents and visitors who made this year so amazing by creating wonderful artistic and creative costumes and floats. 

The creativity and artistry is back and the more risque elements are fading into the background and back in to more private events and functions. The creation of the little black book of adult themed parties that includes the rules on nudity and addresses proper decorum in public places is a work of genius. 


In the recent past, I have had to work hard to seek out truly creative and innovative costumes, this year they were everywhere and the magic was truly easy to find. Instead of coming home each night feeling somewhat embarrassed about the direction my community was headed, I am once again happy and proud of the face we are showing the world.



Are there still some issues, certainly, as anyone walking around at night on lower Duval can attest. It may take a few years to completely alter the view of what the festival is about, but the event is heading in an amazingly positive and upward direction and the great new energy that I saw this week makes me feel that future Fantasy Fests are going to get nothing but better under the current leadership.”

-Michael Blades



That concludes my coverage of the official Fantasy Fest 2018 events, with the exception of a brief stop at Children’s Day on Sunday. It was a spectacular and fun ten days and while exhausting, unlike some years I finish the week, tired but looking forward to next year and I am assuming continuing improvements. After finishing following the parade down to the judge’s stand to meet Kathy, we joined our friend and FF organizer Nadene and her husband Trevor to head out and celebrate a truly magical week.


Scott and Jeremy

Our final Fantasy Fest party of 2018 was the Polka Dot party at Mary Ellen’s where we relaxed, took a deep breath and soaked in all that the week had been. Kudos to Nadene and her crew at Fantasy Fest/ We’ve Got the Keys and to Marky and everyone at Wonderdog Studios. It is a tremendous amount of work with a ton of moving parts to pull off an event of this scope and they made it look so much easier than it actually is. People had a ton of fun and the community benefited both financially and with a move towards restoring the reputation of our wonderful island as a creative, fun and welcoming place.


Trevor and Nadene